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By Tony Casteleyn

Do you ever check your work emails at home?

Today’s communication technology becomes more global and instantaneous by the day.  Tech such as smartphones and internet threaten to rock the work-life balance boat.

Finding a suitable balance between work and daily living is a challenge that all workers face.

By the very nature of communication technology, people are able to interact with one another wherever they are and whenever they want. Some us e their smartphones to be on call when they’re not physically at work. Others put in extra hours at the office.

What if you stay late at the office?

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Longer hours and more technology don’t necessarily bring an increase in productivity. In reality, they are counterproductive leading to more fatigue, a neglected social life and more stress.

Evidence of this can be found in a study carried out by Ford Motor Company in the 1990s. Every additional 20 hours of work above the recommended 40 hours resulted in an increase in productivity only for three to four weeks. Hereafter, it decreases. In fact, a person who begins to work long hours will inevitably start falling behind in duties and may need to spend more hours trying to catch up on neglected tasks.

When it comes to fostering that balance, nations don’t all operate the same way. Hours spent at work varies.

What about the UK?

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In the UK, workers are among those who work the longest hours in Europe. According to the TUC, the UK working week has now reached up to 43.5 hours – three hours longer than the European average. More than four million employees work more than 48 hours a week, amongst them one in six regularly clocks up more than 60 hours a week.

Contrast this with the Scandinavian countries, which show a different picture. As reported by OECD, Denmark performs exceptionally well in measures of well-being. It ranks among the top countries in a large number of topics such as community, life satisfaction, education, jobs, environment…  Time devoted to leisure and personal care ranks first. 1.97% Employees work very long hours (12.06% for the UK).

How to find the right balance?

Every day offers a new chance to move toward a better balance between work and life. There are variety of ways to balance both work and personal life each day. Set realistic goals such as:

  • Prioritise:  Prioritise ruthlessly while knowing what’s important and what can wait.
  • Say no:  Learn what you can control and what you can’t, learn how to say no.
  • Get help:  Ask for help or outsource wherever you can.
  • Plan downtime:  Build downtime into your schedule: This is important for proper brain function and health.  Spare time can help you get out of the details and understand the purpose and priority of tasks.  Downtime helps you achieve high levels of performance while encouraging both productivity and creativity.
  • Use technology:  Technology can be useful to save time. Telecommuting is a good way to cut out travelling time. However, if you remain too much in touch, your time will end up consumed by intrusive e-mails and cell phone calls. If so, try to make a practice of unplugging or filter your calls.
  • Know it won’t always be perfect: Time can’t always be spent perfectly. Work can’t always be perfectly done. Therefore, do what you can do and enjoy the time you spend.
  • Know your rhythm:  Everyone has their own rhythm. By seeking a rhythm, you acknowledge there is a time to work and a time to rest. A good life rhythm will help you keep going and work more efficiently.
  • Don’t overwork:  Try to draw a line between work and home: Stop for meals, make time for holidays, spend time with family and friends …

Did you find your own life balance? Any tips you would like to suggest?

 

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